Tuesday, August 27, 2013

                               Missing father and children found safe


A 12 hour search ending happily for an Orchard Lake family Monday.  Searchers found Daniel G. Elliott and his 3 children at 7:40 pm in the area that law enforcement had been searching throughout the day in Glen Arbor Township.  The family was checked by Glen Arbor Fire Department paramedics on scene and all were found to be in good health.

Daniel G Elliott

Elliott, 50, was taken into custody on an Emmet County misdemeanor warrant and was transported to Petoskey later Monday evening.  Elliott does not face any local charges but the incident will be reviewed by the Leelanau County Prosecutor's Office.

The Elliott children, 14, 10 and 9 were tired, hungry and thirsty but were not injured.  They told investigators that they last ate on Sunday morning in Emmet County and arrived in Leelanau County Sunday night.  The stayed in the woods Sunday night and hadn't had food or water since they ate breakfast in Petoskey Sunday.

Elliott's wife told Emmet County authorities that she was forced out of the family vehicle by her husband Sunday morning and he drove off with their children.  The woman filed a missing person report there a short time later.  She said she was concerned for the welfare of her children because of her husband's mental state but did not believe he would harm them.  The family was in the area visiting friends and family.

National Lakeshore rangers located the Elliott's 2013 BMW abandoned near the Maritime Museum in Glen Haven at 7:20 am Monday.  The vehicle had been entered into a national law enforcement database by Emmet County as being associated with Daniel Elliott and the missing children.  Rangers were unable to locate the family in the immediate area and requested assistance from the Leelanau County Sheriff's Office. 

Later in the morning, K-9 tracking dogs from the Michigan State Police and Grand Traverse County Sheriff's office assisted in attempting to find the Elliotts.  The dogs were unsuccessful in locating a significant track.  The United States Coast Guard air station assisted with air search support throughout the day.  Due to the heavy flora and thick cedar swamp, the family was not located but it kept them contained in the area by remaining overhead.  The children said their father told them they were "camping".  They knew the helicopter was looking for them and they stayed hidden to avoid detection from the air. 

Search organizers received a tip from a local man who was running on the Heritage Trail in the search area at 10:30 am.  He said he saw a man and three children that were believed to be the Elliott family.  Law enforcement and K-9 dogs were taken to the area of the sighting by the witness but the 4 were not located due to the thick cover and rugged dune terrain.  It was later confirmed that the family had moved to a different location before law enforcement arrived to check that area.

The search continued throughout the day with organizers believing that the family remained secreted in an area of approximately several square miles, north of Dune Valley Road and west of M-209.  It was bordered by Lake Michigan on the north and west.   Early in the search Park Service officials closed the Dune Climb, the western portion of the Heritage Trail and Sleeping Bear Drive to avoid cluttering the search area with thousands of people.
Temperatures neared 90 degrees throughout the day.

A ground search was organized and launched around 7:00pm.  Searchers included approximately 35 volunteer fire fighters from county departments, National Lakeshore Search and Rescue team, Park Rangers, Sheriff's Deputies and State Police Troopers.  The FBI was also on scene in a supporting role.  Approximately 40 minutes after the ground search began, a deputy spotted the family walking towards him.

The children were taken from the scene by ambulance and Daniel Elliott was taken into custody.  He never possessed any weapons nor was there ever any danger to others in the area.  It is believed that he thought he needed to keep the children away from his wife and that is why they were hiding in the woods on the dunes.  The children were turned over to their mother who had arrived earlier in the afternoon.

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